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Reform Magazine | May 26, 2017

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Editorial: The “E” word

steve_tomkinsI’ve done it in the high street, I’ve done it in the park. I’ve done it on a doorstep, I’ve done it on a beach. I’ve done it in a canteen, I’ve done it on a bus. I’ve done it in prison, I’ve done it in church. I’ve done it with music, I’ve done it with drama, I’ve done it by post.

I feel as if there are few forms of evangelism I haven’t tried in my time. Looking back, I wonder whether any of them ever achieved anything at all, other than the bewilderment and slight embarrassment of passersby and the enormous embarrassment of the perpetrators. I was taught, and believed profoundly, that it was the most important activity in the world, and yet none of us did it at all well. It never seemed to make any difference to anybody.

In a sense, success or failure wasn’t the point – you do your bit and leave it in God’s hands. But I wonder just how happy God was to have these bits of ours left in his hands.

Since those days, the kind of Christian I am has changed tremendously. I’d rather knock on someone’s door to ask if they saw what happened to my car than to ask what they think about Jesus. I no longer feel someone’s eternal destiny rests upon how plausibly I can sell the doctrine of substitutionary atonement to them.

And yet when someone does ask me about my faith, I feel a thousand times more comfortable talking about it than I did in the old days. I like to think that’s because the faith I now have is immeasurably closer to who I really am than the faith I was brought up with. Or is it just because I’m now too wishy washy to challenge or offend anyone?

• • • • • •

Well, let’s find out. I’m not going to challenge you to give the Lord a try, because I think there’s pretty good chance someone got there before me. But I do have a challenge for you.

As I see it, the magazine you’re reading now is – whatever might be happening on this page – the most searching, stretching, stimulating and inspiring Christian publication in this country. I believe in it, and I think if more Christians read it, the Church would have a greater impact on the world.

If you agree with me, why not use this Christmas as a chance to introduce a new reader to Reform? Here, you’ll find a gift subscription form. It̕s not evangelism, it̕s not the Gospel, it̕s just Reform. But it is worth sharing.

I’m grateful to those who share their wisdom, humour, insight and passion with us in Reform. And I’ll be grateful to you for sharing it further. It’s got to be a lot less painful than doing sketches on the high street.

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This article was published in the November 2015 edition of  Reform.

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